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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Feds file suit to recover costs from manhunt

  • FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Federal authorities are taking a prisoner transport company to court to recover costs incurred from a rural North Dakota manhunt that ended when farmers used combines to help flush the suspect from a cornfield.


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  • FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Federal authorities are taking a prisoner transport company to court to recover costs incurred from a rural North Dakota manhunt that ended when farmers used combines to help flush the suspect from a cornfield.
    The suit against Extradition Transport of America asks a judge to order restitution for several law enforcement agencies and the farmers who formed a posse for the October 2011 search. Authorities say about $95,000 was spent recapturing Joseph Megna, and that not everybody involved has been reimbursed.
    "We want to make sure we are supporting local law enforcement and that the local North Dakota taxpayers aren't out this money," U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon told The Associated Press on Monday.
    The action to help state agencies and residents is possible under a 2000 federal law passed following the escape in New Mexico of an inmate convicted of murdering an 11-year-old Fargo girl, Jeanna North. The inmate was a fugitive for three months.
    Purdon said he believes it's the first time the law, Jeanna's Act, has been utilized.
    Billy Taylor, Extradition Transport of America spokesman, said the company's insurance provider is working to make sure everyone is paid.
    "It's unfortunate that it happened but we're trying to get everything covered here," Taylor said.
    Megna, a registered sex offender with prior criminal convictions in the state of Washington, was being transported from Florida to Washington state when he escaped at a rest stop after a padlock was not secured on a van door. He was arrested 22 hours after walking away.
    The largest claim among the residents is more than $25,000 for Dennis Smith, the property owner who wound up harvesting his corn before it was ready. The other amounts of restitution for farmers range between $100 and $4,750.
    "We're very grateful to the efforts of the Barnes County Sheriff's Office in helping us calculate these claims," Purdon said.
    Lee Grossman, the Barnes County state's attorney, and Randy McClaflin, the Barnes County sheriff, did not return phone messages left Monday by The Associated Press.
    Smith and 10 other area residents qualified as special deputies under state law and are eligible to have their expenses reimbursed, according to the suit.
    "The sheriff has the opportunity to convene a posse for purpose of apprehending a fugitive," the complaint states.
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